Tamara Wells of Post Falls said she’s challenging Gov. Butch Otter and several other candidates in Idaho’s Republican primary for governor precisely because she doesn’t have a long political resume.
“We need some new blood in the state’s top job instead of the endless serious of career politicians who are not getting the job done,” Wells said. “We need someone who will take a stand to protect Idaho against Washington, D.C.” Wells said she’s met Otter informally and that he’s been an ineffective governor. “He seems like a nice man, but the job’s not getting done.”
Wells hasn’t held elected office and has yet to file campaign finance reports with the Idaho secretary of state. Her campaign hasn’t met the activity requirements to allow her to appear in the televised primary debate, but she said she’s talking with people around the state, and encouraging discussion on her website, where she has an online town hall that resembles a blog with a commenting section. Wells said she’s gotten good feedback from her website. “It’s hard to get around sometimes to every little town and little city,” she said. The four posts on her site, about jobs, taxes, health care, and state spending, show three posted comments and Wells’ response.
If she’s elected, Wells said she’d use discussions with stakeholders to set state policy for health care and education. “We have to get together with physicians, with hospitals … and sit down with them and see if they have come to a solution that would work for everybody,” she said. On education, she’d conduct similar meetings with teachers, but said school administration costs need to be lowered. “There are too many chiefs and not enough Indians, and that comes from the administrative end, where they’re making all the money.”
Wells is opposed to new federal health care laws, but said she doesn’t think suing the federal government to block provisions in the new laws will be successful or is the right path forward. “Since when do you have to sue something for a state right? You just say no.” She said she’d reject federal changes, even if it meant a reduction in federal dollars coming to Idaho or other consequences. “You have to be able to stand up,” she said.
For funding schools, Wells said she’d prefer if more local school districts would do voluntary fundraisers and find other sources of revenue besides property tax levies and state funding. She said Idahoans are generous people who will help when necessary. “When there’s a problem, they pitch in to help financially,” she said. Public schools are the largest line in the state budget at more than $1.2 billion a year.
Wells wants all state agency budgets to be audited and spending decisions to be better publicized. “Enough is enough,” she said. “We have a huge deficit looking at us down in Boise. I’m sure a lot of people would like to know where all this money went.” The Idaho Constitution requires lawmakers to write a balanced budget, though the current and next budgets have seen reductions, and lawmakers are drawing down reserves to prevent larger cuts or tax increases.
Lowering taxes is also on Wells’ to-do list. She said Idaho needs to lower taxes to remain competitive with neighboring states, some of which don’t have a sales tax or state income tax. One new revenue source Wells is proposing is taxing credit card companies and banks for the processing charges levied against stores. “It’s time the banks and credit card companies pay,” she said. “What we’re after is the fee that the bank is charging the merchant.” Wells also laid the blame on large creditors for the recent nationwide economic downturn. “They’re the source of our problem right now. They have caused us this downfall that we have right now.”
Wells said that she also would propose legislation aimed at curbing illegal immigration similar to laws passed recently in Arizona that have gained national attention. Wells said she called Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to thank her for signing the legislation. Before moving to Idaho, Wells lived in California, where she said she gained a different perspective on the issue. “Unless you’ve lived it and you’ve walked in the shoes of the people down there that are facing that, you have no idea what you’re talking about,” Wells said. “It is not about race. It has nothing to do with that at all.”
Wells’ professional background is in medical trichology, which deals with hair and scalp issues. “I find out why people are losing their hair,” she said about her job. She said she works with dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and other physicians to assist people with cancer and other illnesses.
If voters elect her as Idaho’s first female governor, Wells said she wouldn’t stay in politics for long. She told IdahoReporter.com that she would limit herself to two terms, and try to enact term limits for other state lawmakers. Wells faces Otter, former elk rancher Rex Rammell, Ada County Commissioner Sharon Ullman, and Pete Peterson of Boise in the May 25 Republican primary for governor.